The color has been spectacular in most areas of the Parkway and this year, according to most accounts, is one of the best in several years. Most areas of the Parkway are past their peak color, but some of the lower elevations continue to show splendid color and will do so into early November. Here are the reports from all of the districts. Moderate to good color is still present throughout the northern section of the Parkway. Leaves are at or very near their peak from milepost 0 to milepost 50, and good color appears again through the Peaks of Otter area. South of Roanoke on the high plateau that includes Rocky Knob, Mabry Mill, and Rock Castle Gorge, the peak color has already occured, but there are pockets of fall foliage worth a visit this week, and the Bent Mountain area just south of Roanoke still has some good color. In North Carolina, Doughton Park is reporting fading color and loss of leaves from recent winds and rain in high elevations, but the views of the lower valleys from Parkway overlooks are spectacular. The report from Linville Falls and south to Crabtree Meadows is great color remaining. Visitors here may want to check out the trail off the path at the overlook at Chestoa, about milepost 320, to see the pale yellow and red berries of Mountain Winterberry, a deciduous holly, and the large yellow leaves of the Striped Maple. Stop at Bear Den overlook (milepost 324) to see a view of the valley below. Check out the reds of the nearby maples. Drive on the Parkway in this area, and you will also see the reds of oaks and sourwood and the beginning of the reds of the sumac. The high elevations south of Asheville are stripped bare and wearing their winter look right now. The towns of Cherokee and Waynesville and Maggie Valley passed their peak, but you can still find lots of good color. Any of the overlooks that look down into the lower valleys still will show some nice color as well. Some winter-like weather has already threatened the Parkway with some snow showers and flurries, although no accumulations as of yet. This time of year visitors should be prepared for rapidly changing weather. Check conditions prior to visiting the mountains and have a few supplies – food, water, and blankets – in the trunk of your car.
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